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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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For we must remember that the Chinese painters did not
want mere accuracy of detail. Su Tungp'o said: "If one criti-
cizes painting by its verisimilitude, one's understanding is
similar to that of a child."   But taking away mere veri-
similitude, what has the painter to offer us? What, after all, is
the purpose of painting?  The answer is that the artist should
convey to us the spirit of the scenery and evoke in us a sym-
pathetic mood in response.   That is the highest object and
ideal of Chinese art. We remember how the artist makes
periodic visits to the high mountains to refresh his spirit in the
mountain air and clean his breast of the accumulated dust of
urban thoughts and suburban passions.   He climbs to the
highest peaks to obtain a moral and spiritual elevation, and he
braves the winds and soaks himself in rain to listen to the
thundering waves of the sea.  He sits among piles of wild
rocks and brushwood and hides himself in bamboo groves for
days in order to absorb the spirit of life and nature. He should
convey to us the benefit of that communion of nature, and
communicate to us some of the spirit of the things as it is
instilled into his soul, and re-create for us a picture, "surcharged
with moods and feelings, ever-changing and wronderful like
nature itself." He might, like Mi Yiijen, give us a landscape of
nestling clouds and enveloping mists which entwine the rocks
and encircle the trees, in which all details are submerged in
the general moistness of the atmosphere, or, like Ni Yiinlin,
he might give us a picture of autumn desolation, with the
country a stretch of blank whiteness and the trees so sparse of
foliage that only a few dangling leaves affect us by their loneli-
ness and their shivering cold. In the power of this atmosphere
and this general rhythm, all details will be forgotten and only
the central inood  remains.    That is  "rhythmic  vitality,"
ettijun shengtung, the highest ideal of Chinese art. Thus poetry
and painting meet again*

This is the message of Chinese art, that it teaches us a pro-
found love of nature, for the Chinese painting which really
excels by its unique accomplishments is painting of landscape
md of nature. The best of Western landscapes, like Corot*s3
give us the same atmosphere and the same feeling for nature,
But in the portrayal of human forms, the Chinese are